Creating Order out of Chaos: 1986-2016

Right before midnight on December 31, 1986, a project manager was up in the tower of the Salt Lake City and County building.  He was working against a deadline. His team’s mission was to identify and move County records out of the building by the end of 1986, as Salt Lake County would no longer reside there as of the new year. Since May 13 of that year the staff, including interns, had been working in both the City and County building and the former County Hospital buildings at 2001 South State Street, evaluating and relocating records to “temporary” storage.

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One of the record boxes from the move from the City and County Building to temporary County records storage building.

A report by the project manager emphasized the need for the program to continue after the project’s completion:

“Since the establishment of Salt Lake County, one of the central functions of county government has been to create and preserve public records. These records, from the oldest handwritten minutes and ledgers to the latest computer data, reflect our ever-growing capacity to perform this central function.  However, a walk through the storage vaults and attics in County buildings indicates that we have had more success creating records than we have had in managing, securing, and protecting them.”

Indeed, the same observations had been made during the last complete inventory of County records done by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937.  A Records Management and Archives program was long overdue.  It was time to create order out of chaos.

Memo to the Director of Administrative Services commending Records Management and Archives on finally making "order out of chaos."

Memo to the Director of Administrative Services commending Records Management and Archives on finally making “order out of chaos.”

We are now celebrating 30 years of serving the citizens and employees of Salt Lake County and the public worldwide.  To celebrate, throughout May we will have blog posts exploring the history of the program, talking more about the functions of Records Management and Archives, and holding a weekly trivia contest with prizes!


Excerpt from  “Report to the Design Committee on County Records Management.” 5 August 1986, submitted by Robert A. Westby, Project Manager, Salt Lake County Records Management and Archives Project.  

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